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Prince of Pinot: A Real Person

As I enter the 15th year of publication of the PinotFile using the moniker, “Prince of Pinot,” I realize that many readers have no idea who I am and what my background is. I think it is only fair to expose myself.

I grew up in a humble but loving household in Lakewood, California, the son of a father who was an aircraft tool and die maker (and a world class swimmer and diver as a young man) and a mother who was a teller at a savings and loan (and taught me fortitude). Our 2 bedroom, 1 bath home was bought for about $10,000 new in the early 1950s in a tract that would set a standard for future neighborhoods in the U.S.. I grew up with a brother who was seven years younger and would become a pharmacist in adult life. The topic that arose at many evening meals was that I should become a doctor and work for myself. My parents enjoyed cocktails socially and my father drank beer at home, but like many of my parents’ generation, wine was an after thought.

I ventured away from home to attend Stanford University in 1961, majoring in Biology as a course tract to get into medical school. Athletically inclined, I played freshman football as a walk-on, but quickly realized my talents were better served in academics. I was quite a book worm in the four years of undergraduate study and left Stanford as a graduate “with distinction.” A family doctor friend living near Stanford who was heavily invested in Burgundy first exposed me to fine wine. I was shocked when I saw his residential wine cellar for the first time.

It wasn’t until after four years of medical school at UCLA, a year of internship, three years of ophthalmology residency at Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, and two years active duty as a major in the Air Force, that I started my private practice in Orange County, California, and soon had enough expendable income to explore the pleasurable world of wine. I dove into wine with serious intent, sampling varietals of every type, developing a cellar of sizable proportions, but always returning to Pinot Noir. Many friends called me a “prince” for introducing them to Pinot Noir and this was to be the forerunner of my moniker. I married 37 years ago, raised two sons, and retired from medicine in late 2001.

My mother always told me I would either be a doctor or a writer and I showed her - I became both. Upon retiring, with no special intent to launch a second career, I began a single page email that I sent out weekly to friends on Sunday night, titled “The PinotFile,” a play on the word pinotphile, detailing recent Pinot Noir wines I had experienced, making recommendations, and writing in general to show my passion for Pinot Noir. The early missive soon became a four page online newsletter, one of the first devoted solely to Pinot Noir. I began to read everything I could possibly find on Pinot Noir, attended every one of the domestic Pinot Noir celebrations and tastings held annually, traveled to the Holy Land (Burgundy), and began visiting Pinot Noir producers regularly. Today, the PinotFile is published online about every 2 weeks, receiving about 50,000 page views monthly from readers everywhere in the internet sphere.

Beyond the gratification that comes from recognition of my writing, and the opportunity to taste the greatest domestic Pinot Noirs in current production, my satisfaction has come from the many friendships I have established among winery owners and winemakers that are a very special breed of people. Unlike many wine critics, I do not try to distance myself from the fulfilling interpersonal bonds that can develop in this business.

My wife says I spend too much time on the computer and I do. Each issue of the PinotFile requires at least 40 hours to complete, involving careful tasting of Pinot Noir, and researching and writing about the wines and Pinot Noir in general. I am, however, undeterred, because I am intent about offering a special service to pinotphiles and thoroughly enjoy the process. I often jokingly ask people, “What is the difference between a doctor and a wine writer?” The answer is, “A doctor makes a lot more money, but a wine writer gets to drink on the job!”

In my free time I love to play tennis and pickle ball, read more books on wine, dine out as often as I can enjoying wines from my own cellar, play my large collection of rock-n-roll and doo-wop vinyl LPs, collect way too many recipes but never find time to cook with them, spend every Saturday during college football season on the couch, and exercise regularly with my wife Patti who is my social wing person as she is much more outgoing than I am. I have arrived healthy in my early 70s, in large part to her companionship as well.

I do not have time to respond to comments on my website and thus have not incorporated that option for readers, but I am always excited to hear from readers through my email address at As far as a photo of myself, you need only look at my logo on my website homepage that was taken from a profile shot several years ago, and I never age because of the life-sustaining properties of Pinot Noir.

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